After meeting Colorado governor, California Senate leader has concerns about legalizing recreational pot

Los Angeles Times
by Patrick McGreevy

A chance meeting with the governor of Colorado has left California Senate leader Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles) with concerns about an initiative that would legalize the recreational use of marijuana in this state, he said Wednesday.

“I’m not there yet,” De León told reporters when asked his position on Proposition 64. “I don’t know if I am behind the times in comparison to other folks, but I still have my concerns.”

De León said that on a flight back from last month’s Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia he was seated next to Gov. John Hickenlooper of Colorado and the two had a long discussion about the effect of a pot legalization measure approved in that state. The governor had opposed legalization, and said last year that his state’s decision to approve it in 2012 was a “bad idea.”

Read More

Amid weed wars, stoned-driving laws still half-baked

San Francisco Chronicle
By Peter Fimrite

There are certain telltale signs that a person is stoned: bloodshot eyes, forgetfulness, ravenous late-night cravings.

But the November ballot measure that would legalize recreational pot in California says nothing about how police should detect tokers who climb behind the wheel. There’s no marijuana equivalent to the famed blood-alcohol content tests — taken by breath, blood or urine — that have planted .08 into the American consciousness.

It’s not a pressing concern for marijuana advocates, even as entrepreneurs try to develop a better sobriety test for dope smokers. But it’s a big quandary for California law enforcement officers, who are facing a question that has vexed several other states where recreational pot is legal.

California law bars driving under the influence of psychoactive substances, including weed. But with no definitive measurement for intoxication, arrests are often challenged, with officers relying on evidence like indecisiveness behind the wheel or a pungent car interior.

Read More

Could legal marijuana make L.A.’s homeless crisis even worse?

The Los Angeles Times
by Joel Warner

Faced with an intractable and growing homeless crisis, two weeks ago, the Los Angeles Board of Supervisors made a bold and largely unprecedented move: It approved a November ballot measure that would impose a 10% tax on gross receipts of medical marijuana as well as recreational marijuana businesses, if statewide legalization passes at the polls, to help fund the estimated $450 million a year the county needs for homeless housing and services.

It didn’t take long for the measure to face criticism. The Los Angeles Times’ editorial board worried that the levy, combined with other taxes imposed on recreational marijuana, “could push up the price of pot so much that customers and suppliers return to the black market” — defeating the purpose of legalization in the first place.

But there’s also a philosophical question to ponder: Cigarette “sin taxes” usually go to anti-smoking efforts. Casino taxes fund gambling-addiction programs. Why should a similar tax on cannabis go to homeless services? What does marijuana have to do with homelessness in the first place?

Read More

Kids emergency room visits for marijuana increased in Colorado after legalization, study finds

The Denver Post
by John Ingold

Colorado’s laws on labeling and child-resistant packaging have been unable to stop an increase of young kids ending up in the emergency room after accidentally consuming marijuana, according to a new study published online Monday in the medical journal JAMA Pediatrics.

The study — led by a doctor at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus — found that emergency room visits and poison-control calls for kids 9 and younger who consumed pot in Colorado jumped after recreational marijuana stores opened. About twice as many kids visited the Children’s Hospital Colorado emergency room per year in 2014 and 2015 as did in years prior to the opening of recreational marijuana stores, according to the study. Annual poison-control cases increased five-fold, the study found.

“We were expecting an increase,” said Dr. Sam Wang, the study’s lead author. “As far as the poison center, we were a little surprised at the amount of the increase.”

The overall numbers, though, are still relatively low and account for a small fraction of all accidental exposures.

Read More

Legalizing recreational marijuana hurts youth, families

San Diego Union Tribune
by Katie Dexter

As a longtime San Diegan, parent and local school board member, I have deep concerns about Proposition 64, the measure that could permit the large-scale production, advertising and retail sales of recreational marijuana in California. What we know from other states, like Colorado and Washington, that have gone down this road is that usage goes up. In fact, Colorado leads the nation in teen use of marijuana; and with this increased use comes obvious negative repercussions.

Proposition 64 will not only directly affect you, but more importantly, the young people and families that you care about.

In March, the AAA Foundation for Highway Safety reported that deaths in marijuana-related car crashes doubled since the state of Washington approved legalization. Further, after legalization in Colorado, marijuana-involved fatal crashes increased 34 percent. Currently, California averages over 300 fatal crashes a year due to marijuana-impaired driving. According to these statistics, if Proposition 64 passes, fatal crashes involving marijuana could go from 300 to 600 every year.

Read More

Fatal Road Crashes Involving Marijuana Double After State Legalizes Drug

AAA News Room
by Tamra Johnson

WASHINGTON, D.C. (May 10, 2016) – Fatal crashes involving drivers who recently used marijuana doubled in Washington after the state legalized the drug, according to the latest research by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. New research also shows that legal limits for marijuana and driving are arbitrary and unsupported by science, which could result in unsafe motorists going free and others being wrongfully convicted for impaired driving. Washington was one of the first two states to legalize the recreational use of marijuana, and these findings raise serious concerns about drug-impaired driving with at least 20 states considering marijuana legalization this year.

The Foundation examined drug tests and fatal crashes among drivers in Washington, a state that legalized marijuana in December 2012. The researchers found:

  • The percentage of drivers involved in fatal crashes who recently used marijuana more than doubled from eight to 17 percent between 2013 and 2014.
  • One in six drivers involved in fatal crashes in 2014 had recently used marijuana, which is the most recent data available.

Read More

Marijuana Positive Tests Sky Rocket in Fatal Utah Crashes

by Heidi Hatch

(KUTV) Positive marijuana tests have sky rocketed nearly 300 percent in 3 years in fatal Utah crashes.

The numbers are staggering and are raising concern with the increase happening during the same time period marijuana has been legalized in neighboring Colorado.

128 people who’ve died in fatal crashes in the last decade in Utah have tested positive for marijuana. That number has jumped in the last 3 years, raising alarms for Utah’s Department of Public Safety.

“It is always a concern when the numbers go up.” Sgt. Christian Newlin knows the numbers and says drivers testing positive for marijuana in fatal accidents have increased from 10 in 2013 to 21 in 2014 and 38 in 2015.

The increase equals 280 percent in 3 years.
Read More

Is Marijuana the Next Big Tobacco

East Bay Times
by Margaret Lavin

California was the first state to legalize marijuana for medical use in 1996. In 2010, Proposition 19 would have made California the first state to legalize nonmedical marijuana, but voters defeated the measure by a 53.5-46.5 margin. However, lawmakers will try again. There are two major initiatives that have a very good chance of qualifying for the November ballot due to their financial backing and political support.

Researchers at UC San Francisco (UCSF) recently released a new report that evaluates the retail marijuana legalization proposals in California from a public health standard. According to the study, recreational marijuana will likely lead to a new profit-driven industry similar to Big Tobacco that could impede public health efforts.

Researchers said they began their study with the premise that legalizing marijuana makes sense because its prohibition has caused excessive incarcerations and cost taxpayers too much money. However, they concluded that legalized recreational marijuana would replace a crime problem with a public health issue.

Read More

Researchers Warn Legal Marijuana Could be Next Big Tobacco

Sacramento Bee
by Christopher Cadelago

  • Report from UCSF institute warns about health risks, industry power
  • Researchers wanted measures modeled after Tobacco Control Program
  • Backers of main initiative say report is flawed and measure has safeguards

A ballot proposal legalizing recreational marijuana would likely launch a new profit-driven industry similar to Big Tobacco that could impede public health efforts, according to researchers at the University of California, San Francisco.

The 66-page analysis, released Tuesday, is the first in-depth look at the state’s main effort to legalize recreational marijuana this year.

Researchers said they began with the premise that legalizing marijuana makes sense because its prohibition has put too many people behind bars and cost taxpayers too much money. But they concluded the two potential initiatives they examined would replace a crime problem with a public health issue.

The authors, Rachel Barry and Stanton Glantz, of the UCSF Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education and Philip R. Lee Institute for Health Policy, said the measure most likely to qualify for the ballot establishes a regulatory system similar to the one used for alcohol. They said it would have been better to pattern the guidelines after the state’s Tobacco Control Program, which they credited with reducing the health effects and costs related to tobacco.

Read More